Saturday, June 6, 2020
Tim McAllister is pictured in his art room where he creates beautiful works of art inspired by the world around him. Herald photos by Nicole Vik. McAllister’s newest hobby includes glass etching and his home is full of pieces similar to the one pictured.

Art inspired locally

Sparta man finds inspiration for art in his community

The world is full of interesting people doing interesting things and Tim McAllister, of Sparta is no exception. McAllister recently began etching glass as a hobby about six months ago adding to a long list of creative activities that consume his free time. 

By day, McAllister works at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse in the recovery room. After long days at work, he needs a form of therapy to help him unwind.

“I do a lot of artsy stuff and glass etching is my newest thing,” he said, adding he saw a piece of etched glass and was inspired to try it himself. “I looked up different techniques and they were doing it with a Dremel. I said to myself, ‘Well, I have a Dremel. I sharpen my lawn mower blades with it!’”

Now, he uses it to create beautiful works of art. McAllister’s pieces oftentimes take him anywhere from two to eight hours to complete using the Dremel and/or a glass etcher to carve images he’s either sketched or traced onto a piece of glass. 

“Sometimes I find pictures that inspire me and I’ll place it behind the glass so I can get a basic shape of it,” McAllister said. “A lot of stuff I’ll just freehand. I’m always looking for stuff and getting more ideas or I’ll see something and it sparks an idea.”

McAllister spends many hours in a small art room located in the basement of his home. He surrounds himself with art supplies, an array of pieces he’s completed himself and objects that inspire his creative juices.  

“I’ve always had an interest in art,” he said. “I’ve never had any formal art class or any kind of training.”

He first got interested in art through sketching and painting. He quickly immersed himself into wood burning, creating beautiful works of art, which are scattered throughout his home and the homes of family and friends. 

Then McAllister’s fascination with wood burning slowly morphed into glass etching. “I really like it and I’m just enjoying it and I learn all the time,” he said. “I’m constantly experimenting.”

A large portion of McAllister’s pieces were etched onto the glass taken from picture frames he had acquired. After he etches an image or pattern into the glass, he places it back into the frame with black paper behind the image to make it pop. 

During Christmas time, McAllister gave away a large portion of the pieces he had completed as gifts. He also has some inventory displayed at Treehouse Gift & Home in Onalaska, but the majority of his pieces are simply for enjoyment in his own home. 

McAllister has also etched images into vases, mirrors and other objects and he hopes to possibly branch out to the Sparta Buy, Sell and Trade Facebook page. He wants to keep creating pieces, but he’s quickly running out of space to display his artwork.   

“I’m really hard on myself. There’s not a lot of things I’ve done that I feel are worthy because when I see it, I see every little flaw,” McAllister said. “I’m not in it for the money. I just do it because I enjoy it.”

Another unique art medium McAllister has become interested in is alcohol inks, which are a fast-drying, highly pigmented ink that are great to use on any hard, non-porous surface such as glass, ceramic, plastic or stone. 

“I really like it because a lot of times you don’t know what’s going to happen with it. It’s very therapeutic,” he said. “I think sometime soon I’m going to give glass etching a break and try using more alcohol inks in my art.” 

McAllister likes to bounce around with different art mediums to keep all of his hobbies new and interesting. He also has a vast interest in music and can play the piano, guitar and flute. 

 “I’m not a TV watcher. I read a lot of books, listen to podcasts and I do my art,” he said. “When the weather is nicer, I’m outside a lot and I try to take advantage of the bike trails because it is a beautiful area.” 

McAllister added he is inspired by the world around him, “My phone is full of pictures. Whenever I go into the woods or I’m on a walk, I’ll see this and that and I’m always taking pictures.” 

Evans Print & Media Group

1302 River Rd.
P.O. Box 252

Sparta, WI 54656-0252

Office Number: (608) 269-3186
Fax Number: (608) 269-6876


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